Nelly led a difficult life. She was not one of the gorgeous women who caught the eye of every guy as she walked into the room, nor was she the most intelligent of her friends. You might say that she was an average girl with an average life.
Even as a child, and again through adolescence, Nelly was the person that nobody seemed to notice. She could wear a red dress and stand in the middle of a room filled with people dressed in black, and she would still be overlooked.
Nelly lived at home with her grandparents, Bob, and Susan Parker. Nelly’s father had left just after she was born, and her mother committed suicide one week before her eighteenth birthday. Her grandparents were very loving and supportive, but she still felt a void within her. At night, as she laid in bed, Nelly would close her eyes and fall into the darkness of her mind. It was a frightening place for her to be, for that was when all the demons of her past would return and taunt her just like they did throughout her life.
She saw her mom laying in a drunken stupor on the couch with a cigarette dangling from her lips. She could still smell the stench of tobacco and whiskey in the air. Her mom would tell her how she was a mistake and how she should have had an abortion.
Nelly was surrounded by all the bullies that teased her and pushed her around. Ironically, she enjoyed their bullying, because at least she felt noticed. Of course, her mother was always too drunk to answer the calls from the principal, so she was oblivious to the nights that Nelly had to stay late for detention.
Like phantoms and banshees, they circled her, screaming out malicious comments. Nelly felt herself shrinking down until there was nothing left. The ghosts of her past drew in closer until they were right on top of her. There was no way out.
That was the point when Nelly would awaken, her clothes and bedding drenched in sweat. She would often go days without sleep just to avoid those nightmares, though not all her demons were hiding away in her dreams; some were part of her everyday life.
As she walked down the stairs toward the kitchen, she could smell the wonderful aroma of bacon and eggs cooking on the stove. When she entered the kitchen, her grandmother told her to have a seat at the table next to her grandfather.
Her grandfather was about to dig into his breakfast, when he saw the look on his granddaughter’s face and knew something was wrong. After some coaxing, Nelly finally told them about her nightmare. Her grandfather then placed a hand on hers and said he had a story to tell her.
“Nelly, you see this egg on my plate?”
“As you can see, Grandma knows I like my eggs sunny side up. The way that it sits on my plate is like the mind of every person born of this earth. It is strong enough on the outside to hold everything in place, yet very delicate and easily damaged once something hard encounters it.”
Nelly did not fully understand the metaphor, but it made some sense to her. Her grandfather continued.
“As you can see, when I apply a little pressure to it, its contents spread across the plate, just like with all the pressure that you have faced your entire life has slowly spread across the boundaries of your protected zone and now have flowed over into your surroundings. You need to find a way to contain that flow before it gets away from you.”
Nelly thought deeply about her grandfather’s words, and knew he was right, but she did not know how to take control. That was never her strong suit, but her grandparents offered to help in any way they could.
Over the next few days, Nelly and her grandparents had some deep conversations about all the demons that still haunt her, beginning with her mother, their daughter. They accepted some of the blame for Nelly’s mother. They tried to give their daughter space, thinking that was what she needed, but in fact, she was seeking attention. She just wanted to feel loved by her parents, regardless of their “rules.”
Nelly couldn’t imagine her grandparents being the type of people who pushed loved ones away, but maybe she hadn’t noticed since her life was in shambles as well. The people she came to know after she moved in with them, were the most loving people she had ever met.
After breakfast, Nelly felt rejuvenated; not because of the delicious food, but because she no longer felt afraid or ashamed, at least not as much. The darkness within her was still a place she feared to tread, but she felt confident that she could face those fears in time.
When she left for work that day, the sky seemed a little bluer, and the birds seemed especially cheerful. She boarded the subway train and found herself a seat near the door. By the next stop, their was standing room only as a woman with a crying baby boarded. She searched desperately for a place to sit as the train left the station. It was difficult to keep her balance as she held the baby and a few bags of groceries, so Nelly offered up her seat to the woman. Graciously, the woman accepted and thanked Nelly repeatedly.
Her good deed on the train put a smile on Nelly’s face which continued to shine as she left the station. As she walked down the sidewalk, still smiling, she caught the glance of a young boy walking his dog. The boy smiled back, and the dog responded as well, hopping up-and-down wanting Nelly’s attention. She leaned over and petted the dog as it licked her anxiously across the wrist.
Once again, she had a reason to keep smiling. As she entered the office building where she worked, the security guard caught her gaze and stopped her saying, “I’m sorry miss, but I had to tell you that you have the most intoxicating smile I had ever seen. You just made my day a little bit better. Thank you.”
Nelly was slightly embarrassed by the compliment but thanked the man and continued toward the elevator. She was alone on the elevator as the doors began to close, but then an arm thrust its way between, causing the doors to reopen. On walked the man that Nelly had a crush on since she started at the company. His name was Harry, an accountant in Human Resources, and Nelly suddenly turned from happy to nervous. She could feel her face turn red as their eyes connected. Nelly smiled slightly and she was surprised to see Harry smile back before speaking.
“I’m sorry for delaying the elevator,” he said. “I’m Harry, Harry Bassinger.”
“I know,” Nelly responded coyly.
“And your name is Nelly, right?”
“Yes, that’s correct,” she said, amazed at the fact that Harry knew her name. She tried to play it cool, but she was beginning to perspire from her nervousness.
“Has anyone ever told you that you have a beautiful smile?” Harry asked.
“I can’t say they have,” Nelly lied. “But thank you for noticing.”
“I hope you don’t think this is too forward, but would you like to grab a coffee later, or something?” Harry asked.
“I would like that very much. Why don’t I give you my number, and you can call me whenever?”
Harry handed over his phone, and Nelly typed in her number. The doors to the elevator opened to her floor, and she handed the phone back to Harry as other people began to enter. She gave him a smile and a wave then exited the elevator.
More people around Nelly began to take notice of her. She no longer felt invisible. Someone told her that she had a glow about her that couldn’t be explained. For the first time in her life, Nelly felt like her life had meaning.
Her phone beeped as a text message popped up on her screen. It was from Harry, and he wanted to meet in the lunchroom for their break at 10:00 AM. She responded back that she would be there. She watched the clock as the minutes ticked closer to ten.
A nasal voice broke the silence of the room. It was the one person that she hoped to avoid that day: her manager, Gladys Rajinski. The mere sound of her voice made Nelly quiver. She was the equivalent of every bully that Nelly ever faced as a child.
“Miss Parker,” her manager began. “Do I pay you to sit and daydream? I don’t think I do! You still have a stack of work on your desk that I expect to be on my desk by the end of the day. Now get back to it!”
Nelly straightened her posture on the chair and stared at the computer screen replying, “Yes, Mrs. Rajinski. Right away, ma’am.” But in truth, Nelly was still focused on her meeting with Harry, and nothing her boss had to say was going to take that away from her.
Breaktime arrived, and Nelly hurried down to the lunchroom on the floor below. Harry was waiting at a table in the corner, waving her over. They sat and discussed things of interest in the short time that they had while sipping on coffee. Once break finished, they returned to their designated offices, but then met up again for lunch, and then dinner later that evening.
Nelly’s life up to this point had been nothing but heartache and depression, and she was ready to give up altogether. She didn’t think she would ever find happiness. Even the demons that haunted her dreams began to fade away in time. She was no longer a broken yolk.